As the Utah Jazz have gone on a huge winning streak with Mike Conley sidelined, many have questioned whether the veteran is washed up from his prime days. Here are three reasons why I believe Conley will come back stronger.
It’s no secret that the biggest offseason addition last summer for the Utah Jazz was supposed to be Mike Conley. After the rumored deal failed to materialize at the 2019 trade deadline, Utah went out and got their guy ahead of the 2019 NBA draft. And boy, did Conley cost a pretty penny.
Utah gave up Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, as well as two draft picks in order to acquire the Memphis star. Dennis Lindsey has compared Memphis giving up Conley to the Jazz trading Stockton in his prime, because that is how beloved Conley was to the city of Memphis.
He spent 12 years as a Grizzly becoming the franchises all-time leader in games played, points, assists, and steals. Marc Gasol often was accredited as the team’s best player during the grit and grind era, earning the accolades of All-Star appearances the the Defensive Player of the Year trophy; meanwhile Conley quietly became a two-way star, being able to score at all three levels with a deft floater to shoot over tall 7-foot rim protectors, all while playing tough defense.
While all of his teammates from the grit and grind era started going their separate ways, Conley was the one who stayed the longest. He watched as Gasol went on to win his first NBA title with the Toronto Raptors, and even joined the champagne celebration with his old friend via FaceTime. That made Conley want an NBA championship all the more.
It was a no-brainer for the Utah Jazz to acquire a guy like Mike. He was supposed to be the Jazz’s best point guard since Deron Williams, create a terrifying pick and roll game with Rudy Gobert, and form the best backcourt in both his and Donovan Mitchell‘s careers.
Heck, Conley was so valuable that it even caused the Jazz to put the kibosh on the old headband policy.
From the opening tip of the 2019-20 season, Mountain Mike has looked like he is over the hill. Conley shot 1/16 in his official Jazz debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and followed it up with a 3/11 shooting night against the Lakers.
He bounced back with 12 points and eight assists in a blowout win against the Sacramento Kings, and even looked like he found his form in the third quarter versus the Los Angeles Clippers in late October. Over the next 16 games he had some ups and downs, including eight games of shooting under 40 percent from the field and six contests shooting less than 30 percent from the three.
In spite of all of his struggles, both Conley and the Jazz organization have held their heads high.
Even opposing teams have still respected Conley as if he was his old self. When the Los Angeles Clippers came to town, Doc Rivers was positive that Mike would get back on track.
In contrast, some of the doubters of Conley have said this:
- The Utah Jazz should have kept Ricky Rubio.
- The Utah Jazz should have signed D’Angelo Russell or Kemba Walker this past summer.
- The Utah Jazz should actively shop Conley on the trade market
Even Tim McMahon of ESPN, who I consider to be a voice of reason, suggested that Mike Conley come off the bench when he returns to injury so he has the ball in his hands more.
Here are three reasons (not excuses) why I believe Mike Conley will bounce back and ultimately help the Jazz win the trade they made last June.